An interesting dish that is unlikely to take over from paella.
Sun 20/3/16: After leaving our ‘Spanish home’ we headed off to just north of Murcia to do another Via Verde cycle route. However, after making the hour or so drive and a quick walk around the town to orientate us the weather turned and thwarted our cycling ideas and the hope of us working off a few of the recent kilo’s gained, rain came in and heavy it became. Being a Sunday the small town seemed to be orientated towards lunch which given our late and big breakfast we didn’t really want to eat at the time, but we weren’t unduly worried as we had left Aunties with a magical food parcel and that was what we had for dinner- raf tomatoes chopped up and dressed with a olive oil and some wonderful buffalo mozzarella cheese torn over it-simple but stunning and to be fair something that we would have in the UK but not with the raf tomatoes which are a special bread of tomato here and just coming into season so that would set the dish apart. We also had some black footed little piggy jamon as well. All simple food but good quality ingredients which just make a dish and helped lighten our spirits with the then heavy monsoon rain coming in
Mon 21/3/16: the rain continued and became more and more torrential so we ended up spending a lot of the day in a shopping centre and decided as we were heading back to the Murcia coast line that we would just beat the retreat and get to the pay for aire and cook. Our option after spending the time in the massive supermarket store was for a lamb curry- yes I know we have a lot of curries but I like them-curry is my number one food!. This time the spices came from Auntie F and a well known high end supermarket store near her in Murcia. The mix was a Balti and as it served 8 I just halved it and chopped the lamb steaks small with some onion- it all worked out very well and I again made a salsa with yogurt and the raf tomatoes. All being well until the time came to drain the rice and that’s when it went pear shaped – the plastic drainer being ‘stuffed’ into a small cupboard space right over the cooker where we keep our business cards (!!!!) and other such small items unbeknown to me like David’s golf ball marker collection. For those of you unknown to the game of golf these small markers are sold by all clubs and are used to mark where your ball is/was on the green when an opponent takes their put in case they hit your ball, unlike bowls or pentagne here and in France where the object is to hit the players ball and push him out. Anyway, long story short D has been collecting these things and when it came to get the drainer out so did all the ball markers and of course where did they fall but directly below into the nicely cooked bubbling rice. We quickly panicked and fished out what we thought were all of them, about 4 and the plastic coverings but as the rice continued to cook we could hear a rattling that wasn’t there before. So quickly we drained the said rice and Yes there was another one slightly more stewed and the plastic covering a bit more worn for wear. The said curry was eaten a bit like the days of old with the Christmas pudding where you were always expecting and hoping back then to get the sixpence, in this case hoping not to choke on a ball maker. Needless to say the said drainer has been more to a better and safer place which for the moment we aren’t actually where that is!!
Tues 22/3/16: Rain still falling but we headed off for a beach promenade just to get out and some exercise before we saw family again for the day. As the weather wasn’t good plans were changed and we headed off as a party of 8 including little cousins to Pizzeria La Plaza which if you are ever in the area of Murcia/San Javier you must get a visit. Yes pizza and pasta so not unknown or unusual but again simple ingredients cooked well and served in a simple but very stylish setting –the spag bol there is one of my all-time favourites.
Wed 23/3/16: For us Grey gappers making a huge shift into middle Spain and dragging me away from the low 20’s now being had after the rain on the south west coast. But Toledo had been agreed on for Easter and again we agreed that we had to make that shift away from the southern coast before we became complete beach bunnies. One of the things we had noticed here on our travels was that all the services and petrol stations on motorways, A or B’s, all generally have the most loveliest choice of food- be it tapas or most generally menu del dias and for me it became one of my must do things- to have that motorway menu del dia. The journey to Toledo was about 4 hours and so we had agreed to stop after a certain window of time and after a few swerve ins and outs-shall we, shan’t we, we opted on one that seemed fairly industrial and should all options fail also had a Burger King-yuck. We made our choice and stepped boldly into a very busy comedor and after a few moments of trying to ignore us or work out which waiter should have the dubious pleasure of serving us we were seated. We were already slightly confused by the menu outside on the door as it was hand written and quite old fashioned and twirly in style, we couldn’t actually work out whether the price was €10 or €20 but we rationale with ourselves that for a service station it couldn’t be €20 or could it, was this to be another expensive disaster in the making. The waiter flew at us asking what we wanted to drink and half hoping that we might have made a menu choice which of course we hadn’t but we responded quickly before we lost him and asked for a glass of wine each as included on the menu choice. A bottle was quickly flung down and he hopped rapidly one foot to the other asking if we had made our choice. Still No, as neither we nor google translate could read the writing and most of it was beyond our translation or knowledge of Spanish food we had thus far eaten so bad was the writing. Eventually, the waiter gave in and threw an equally badly written English version down on the table and we smiled meekly and looked to make our choice- unfortunately it didn’t seem to have quite as much choice as the Spanish version but what the heck we were hardly going to make a scene. David wanted migas, the Spanish breadcrumbs but that didn’t seem to be available and so we opted for fish soup which was served out of a big silver tureen and a huge bowl given to both of us, we were both also dealt out a fair amount of fish into our potions as well. The main fish to me seemed like it might be an eel as it had a small central bone, but whatever it was the soup was good. Our main dishes were simple enough, roast chicken and meatballs, both well cooked and presented. The service was fast and furious and after they had managed to get our first and second plates understood and out to us they settled down and treated us like the other customers. Pudding order was taken with speed before we had finished our main course and swiftly plonked down soon after the plates were cleared. The wine bottle remained with us for the whole meal and became a subject of debate- the menu of the dia included one drink per head so therefore should we have a second glass or not, or would that then be charged at an horrific amount. David as now the non-driver decided to risk it and poured himself another glass to the rim. After the very nice chocolate layer pudding we asked for the bill which again in the ever busy dining room was delivered with speed- these places aren’t for loitering in and indeed there isn’t much to loiter for. The bill for 2 including probably the whole bottle of wine was €20. We were very pleased, good value food delivered in an efficient and speedy manner just what you need when on a motorway and covering vast distances.
Thurs 24/3/16: After a lovely unplanned overnight stop in Lagunas de Ruidera, which is just a stunning area with many lakes and beautiful countryside we headed into Toledo our chosen stop for Semana Santa. We arrived on the Thursday which is a bank holiday here, Monday not being so. The town was busy already and the police were very much in evidence around the old town with roads closed and traffic building up, but we made it to the camp site and after settling NiKi in and us we had a quick drink in the restaurant/bar with the sun shining we sat on the terrace with a wonderful view of the old town of Toledo in front of us. A most wonderful free tapa arrived shortly after our drinks, of vegetables in a tempura batter drizzled with what looked like Daddies sauce. It was really quite unusual to get vegetables as a tapa and so we wolfed these down hopeful that perhaps a second drink might bring more- unfortunately it didn’t or perhaps it was just the one small beer rather than 2 drinks that deigned us the 2nd portion. Anyway we headed into the old town on foot with a view to have a late dinner and see a procession from one of the churches into the cathedral, there were many to choose from over this period. The town was heaving and we struggled to get into any of the restaurants we had picked and rather disheartened sat in the late evening sun and had a light refreshment and watched the police blocking the roads and lots of very well dressed Spanish people in their cars. David asked the policeman when the next parade was and it was 8.30 so we still had time to try and get some food and watch it. We walked back again and happened upon a trendy modern style bar that was still serving food, most of the ones we had tried were so busy they had closed their kitchens after the late lunch session. The menu here was interesting but not entirely traditional so we opted for burger (which are very popular here and are handmade) and pork ribs in barbeque sauce- the latter being my choice. One of the delights of motorhoming and indeed long term travelling is having a new clean set of clothing on and on this day I had indeed that clean outfit on and needless to say barbeque sauce went very well with all of them!! Is there some unwritten rule about dropping food down you that it always has to be on clean clothes? Anyway, the food was lovely and slightly different and the local wine at 14.5% was not a wine to be gulped. The bill was paid and we took our place with the crowds to watch the amazing Easter ceremonies.
Fri 25/3/16: Easter Friday and so headed off again into old town again taking our time and looking in the shops and watching all the tour groups amassing around the sites, busy, busy, busy and yet again our plan being for a lunch we again struggled competely and were dismissed with a wave of a hand in most of the popular places. We decided we had no option but to join one the many queues waiting for tables in the better known restaurants and with patience and after about 20mins we were sitting in a lovely old palace dining room. The service was fast but efficient and the menu del dia €15 having about 3 choses for each course. I had for starter a soup of bread, ham and garlic and it was stunning- a thin soup with crispy small rounds of bread floating on top of it. I really could have eaten another bowl, but I was glad not to have when my main course of chicken leg stew arrived again delicious. So after a few anxious moments and a good dollop of patience we were happy and well fed.
Sat 26/3/16: For Easter we had been hoping to have a rather nice bottle of wine that I had brought David for Christmas along with a steak, but not some reason Toledo seemed to be devoid of any supermarkets or grocery stores and we had looked in old and new town. So we had opted for pasta and pesto when after a bit more back street wandering we found a small market which also had a small supermarket attached and we got our fillet steaks which we had in a wonderful pepper mushroom sauce and we were for the first time able to use our BBQ and cook the steaks on this. The steak and the wine were both absolutely delicious along with some out of date potatoes which we boiled and I covered with my favourite dressing for potatoes – mint sauce. So for all of those of you who insisted I bring the mint sauce after 3 months you were right, thanks
On Sunday we head off for Cuenca- a world heritage town famed for its hanging houses along with all the many cyclists out on the roads just like the country roads at home over bank holidays. I do wonder something though, what did cyclists wear before Lycra became invented………